Why does it always feel like the last 5 pounds are the hardest to lose? Is it because the body is resisting the weight loss, or is it because we believe that those last few pounds are the hardest to lose?

In this episode, I explore where the belief that the last 5 pounds are the hardest to lose comes from. I’ll also show you how our thoughts play into our ability to lose the last bit of weight, what losing the last 5 pounds really comes down to, and how to overcome it. Only then can you shed those last few pounds and keep them off permanently.


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In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • The main reason it feels like the last 5 pounds are the hardest to lose
  • How the thinking cycle factors into the last 5 pounds
  • How to keep your focus on your goal weight
  • Why it’s important to lose those last 5 pounds, even if you decide to gain them back

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Read the Transcript Below:

Katrina Ubell:     You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 283.

Welcome to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast. I’m your host, master certified life and weight loss coach, Katrina Ubell, MD. This is the podcast where busy doctors like you come to learn how to lose weight for the last time by harnessing the power of your mind.

If you’re looking to overcome your stress-eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you’re in the right place.

Well, hello there my friend, how are you today? I’m so glad you’re here. I’m actually really excited to be recording this podcast because this is the second one I’m recording this week. Now, two a week is, for me, kind of a lot. I know there’s definitely people who really, really batch their episodes and just like bang a whole bunch out. And I think one time I did that, it was a bit of a while ago.

I like to kind of keep it a little bit more current, in general, but I have a little bit of travel coming up, which means I don’t want to leave you hanging. I know, every Tuesday, you’re like, “Where is my episode?” So, I want to make sure that I have a good one for you as well.

Of course, we are taking a family trip. Now, having a high-schooler, I really understand how challenging it can be to even just organize a family trip. My oldest who’s 16, he finishes school much earlier than my other two. So, we are legit pulling the other two out of the last week and a half of school so we can take any vacation as a family at all this whole summer because of other things that the oldest guy has going on.

So, really exciting things for him and listen, third and fourth grade, they’re not going to miss anything missing that last week and a half of school. So, it’s all going to be fine. But like I said, you got to do that pre-work to get yourself going, make sure everything is covered because I love you, but I’m not going to record a podcast when I’m on vacation. Not going to happen.

I was thinking what I could just share with you. I feel like I haven’t always been keeping you updated on certain things that are going on in my life. I mean, some people tell me they’re interested. I also don’t want to bore you with things you don’t want to know about.

But I was thinking about how I had not given you an Invisalign update in a really long time. So, if you’ve been listening for a while, then you know that last year, I think it was in June, I started doing Invisalign, not really so much to straighten my teeth, but my bite was really off and had been for a really long time, really annoyingly.

And I thought, you know what? I think I’m going to just see if this will work. I had actually checked it out, Invisalign, I mean over 10 years prior and they didn’t think it would help me back then. But then, I guess they’ve improved their technology and they said, “Yeah, I think this is going to work.”

I’ll say that it was a means to an end. I didn’t really like any of it to be quite honest, but it’s over now, and I’m really glad that I did it. So, in case you were kind of wondering “Should I or shouldn’t I?” I mean, for me thinking that hopefully, knock on wood, I’m going to be keeping these teeth of mine for a long, long time, it is very worth it to me.

And for me to wear a retainer the rest of my life really is not a big deal because I grind my teeth anyway. So, I always am wearing some sort of splint as it is. So, I might as well wear one that keeps my teeth the way I want them to be, rather than keeping them the way I don’t want them to be.

So, I would say that I recommend it. I would just say though, that, I mean, was I the most compliant person? No, I mean, I recorded one episode with them in of this podcast, and I was like, “No, I’m not doing this anymore.”

Maybe it’s not an obvious to you, but it was obvious to me and I didn’t like it. And so, I mean, I’ll be a hundred percent honest, I did not wear those trays as much as I was supposed to, but still worked. So, you know ….

I’m not always a rule follower. Actually, my mom just asked today (she’s with her friends) — and she texted me and said her friends wanted to know whether my brother and I were always disciplined when we were children, whether we always followed her rules, and are we disciplined now as adults.

And I said, “Are you looking for my opinion or what?” She said, “Yeah, your perspective, your opinion.” And I said, “For the most part, we followed your rules, but we did break them. We just were really smart about it so you didn’t know about it.” And she was like, “Well, good. I’m glad there were no lasting effects” and very smartly, she did not ask me what those things were. I wasn’t going to tell her anyway. Some things are just better left unshared, let’s just say.

Anyway, let’s move forward. A couple of things I want to tell you about, if you have missed the last couple of episodes, I wanted to let you know that my book is going to be published this September, and I want to invite you to pre-order the book so that when September 20th rolls around, you will get a nice, fun, little gift in the mail from yourself from today.

So, September 20th version of you is going to be like, “Ooh, look at this little gift that ended up on my doorstep and that’s going to be my book.” And my book is titled How to Lose Weight for The Last Time: Brain-Based Solutions for Permanent Weight Loss.

I’m really excited about it. I actually spent yesterday and today finalizing the book jacket, all the copy that’s going to be on that and everything. It’s really coming together, it’s very exciting. And so, I just want to give you that opportunity to make sure that that book ends up in your inbox.

So, the way to find out more is just to go to katrinaubellmd.com/lasttime, and you’ll have an option to choose from various different book retailers. So, it’s not just like all Amazon or whatever. Some people are very anti-Amazon, some people are willing to buy from multiple people, some people are like it’s Amazon or Barnes. So, like whatever you like, you’ve got options there. So, that is great.

The second thing is next week, Thursday, I want to invite you to come and join me live for my free training called the Missing Piece to Permanent Weight Loss. This is something you’re not going to want to miss. It’s at 8:30 PM Eastern, 5:30 PM Pacific time. So, next Thursday is June 23rd, just depending on when you’re listening to this. And you can come and register for it by going to katrinaubellmd.com/loseweight.

So, listen, you have to understand these things I’m going to teach you on this training in order for you to lose weight and keep it off. And actually, what we’re talking about today on the podcast is about losing those last five pounds, why they always feel like they’re the hardest. And the things I’m going to teach you like 100%, you need to know if you want to get to getting that last bit of weight off and then keeping it off, most importantly.

Because I know for myself, so many times, I’d get that last little bit of weight off and then promptly start regaining it immediately. So, if you want to know how to do that and what needs to happen, all the information, what to do instead, you’re going to want to come and join me for the Missing Piece to Permanent Weight Loss. It’s next week, Thursday, June 23rd, 8:30 PM Eastern, 5:30 PM Pacific. And you can register by going to katrinaubellmd.com/loseweight.

Just so you know, I will send out a replay. So, if wherever you are in the world, this doesn’t work out for you or you just can’t make it for whatever reason, I will send out that replay. Of course, coming live is the best, because then I can answer your questions and we can communicate and you can let me know more about you, which is always so, so, so super fun.

Let’s talk about the last five pounds. I feel like I sounded very Wisconsin there (liaised). If you know anything about the Midwest, we can’t help it. Sometimes it just flies out. I’ll try not to say that again. Sometimes it comes out of my kids’ mouth and my husband and I just look at each other and we’re like, “No, you got to say that again. We cannot allow that kind of Midwestern accent to come through.” It’s like “a-accent.”

Anyway, let’s talk about those last five pounds and why they’re so hard. So, I want to let you know that one of the reasons, probably one of the main reasons they feel so hard is because we all believe that they’re hard.

So, I do just want to first point out that it is a thought and not a fact that the last five pounds are hard. They can be easy. It is possible for them to be easy. It’s possible for it to be simple and for you to accomplish losing those last five pounds with ease. So, it’s just good to recognize that.

If you are convinced, if your belief is that losing the last five pounds is the hardest, then what do we know with the thinking cycle? Our thoughts create our feelings, drive our actions, and create our results. So, if you believe that it’s going to be super hard, you will subconsciously, unknowingly, create an experience where the result is that losing those five pounds is very, very hard.

So, that’s the first thing I have to point out. I’d be remiss if I did not point out that it’s not the truth, it’s a thought that losing the last five pounds is the hardest. So, I just want to invite you to consider that it might not have to be that hard.

Now, with that said, there are definitely times when we’re like, “Oh my gosh, like what the heck? I’ve been working on these five pounds for a long time and what do I do?”

And so, another thing to point out is that when you are that close to your goal weight or whatever is ideal for you, whatever you’ve decided you want to accomplish, you’re not going to lose the weight very quickly, often. I mean, most of the time.

So, I often hear from people who are really frustrated with this, especially if they’ve had a significant amount of weight to lose because early on, it was coming off so quickly. And now, it’s much, much slower. Like maybe they’re losing, maybe if they’re lucky, a half a pound every couple of weeks or something. It just feels like it’s going so slowly.

And it is compared to their experience earlier, but it’s a totally different situation. Your body is totally different. What your body is doing is totally different. The way that you’re taking care of your body and nourishing your body is extremely close to the way you’re going to be doing that when you’re maintaining that weight, when you’re five pounds less. And so, it’s just going to typically be sore. And then we just have to look at and ask ourselves, like can that just be okay?

So, why does this bother people so much? Well, for one thing, you’re so close. Sometimes, we just feel like we’re just ready to get there. I definitely have had many clients tell me over the years, like, “Well, I just, for myself, I want to get to that certain weight. But everybody around me is telling me that it’s kind of good enough or I should be done, or I shouldn’t try to lose any more weight.”

And I would argue too, that for most people’s bodies, you being up or down five pounds, like other people are not able to pick up on that. So, you can tell maybe on your body, by how you feel or how your clothes fit, but other people aren’t going to be able to tell. So, just remember that other people are not living in your body, you are. Thinner is not always better. In fact, that’s something really to question, but it’s really just a personal choice.

Like you get to decide, and if your decision is that you want it to be five pounds less, then that’s what you should do because of what you want. Not because you think life will suddenly be better or you’ll have a different personality or whatever reason. You should do it for you because you prefer to live in a body that’s five pounds lighter.

So, other people are telling you, you can stop or whatever, just remember, like I hear you … I think some people have said that it’s out of love. Like it’s usually family members or friends who are like, “Look, like don’t go to extremes. You don’t want it to go too far or things like that.” And of course, they have the best of intentions. Like the intention behind it is so pure, and it may be something to even consider.

Like maybe, I thought I wanted that number, but maybe I won’t actually like that. What I actually offer is that as long as you do the work that’s required, that I’ll get to in just a second, at that point, then you get to decide what you want to weigh. And maybe you do want to weigh 5 or 10 pounds more. Just because you like how your body looks or how your clothes fit or you just prefer it — no problem at all. You’ve done the actual work that’s required and that’s amazing.

Another thing is that we just want the weight loss part to be over with. We start to get really impatient. We’re just like, “I’m just tired of this and I don’t want to have to do this so much anymore, and I don’t want to have to pay attention so closely anymore.” And if we’re having thoughts like that, I start having some concerns about our ability to maintain it.

So, when you’re thinking that you just want the weight loss part to be over with, because like what that presupposes is that not losing weight anymore i.e., maintaining will somehow be better or easier. And that may or may not be true.

So, we’re kind of like, “I just want to get to the point where I’m at my goal.” And again, like that shows that our belief is that then the hard part will be over with. Maybe that’s true but a lot of times it’s not, especially if you haven’t done what’s necessary in terms of your thinking and your feelings. In fact, often, in those types of situations, maintenance actually is harder. And I’ll get into why that is in just a moment.

So, what we want to do when we’re in that kind of like rush to just get the weight loss part over with, we want to look at our beliefs about the experience. So, if the experience of losing weight has been quite uncomfortable for you, meaning you’ve been quite restrictive, you’ve been really strict with yourself, in a way that isn’t necessarily helpful. If you have really been ultimately kind of internally sort of cracking the whip or really not being kind to yourself or supporting or loving as you’ve been losing the weight, often, we just want the weight loss part to be over with so we can stop having that experience. We think, “Oh, then I’ll just start thinking more positive thoughts about myself. Then I’ll be supportive of myself. Then it’ll be easier being me.”

But it won’t be because that experience of being you comes from your thoughts, and particularly, that inner self talk, that inner narrative. And so, if you’re in the habit of telling yourself really negative things or not being supportive of yourself, five pounds on your body is not going to make any difference. It’s not going to change the way that you think. Like you’re just going to find something else to be mean to yourself about or to flog yourself about or just not be supportive of yourself about.

So, that’s really important too. We want this weight loss part to be over with, thinking, “Oh, we can finally get some relief,” but there won’t be a relief, it’ll just be a different flavor is what you’re going to have. So, we got to work on that too.

Sometimes, we’re just ready to stop thinking about it. We’re like, “I just don’t want to have to think about losing weight anymore.” Well, what are those thoughts about losing weight that you feel like you have to be thinking?

I think we sometimes really — and I’m so guilty of this. Like I’ve done this so many times just thinking like “I’m going to lose that weight and then I’ll just be able to move on to other things and I’ll never have to think about it ever again.” Even though I had so much research and experience and evidence that that was not the case, I still somehow, I don’t know, convinced myself that that was going to be the truth.

So, here’s what I want you to know, is that people who maintain their weight loss do think about it. It doesn’t consume them, it doesn’t consume every waking moment. They’re not constantly thinking about it, but do they have to do things to keep themselves supported so they can keep that weight off? Yes, they do.

Notably, they need to be focusing on processing their emotions and looking at their thoughts, doing some thought work. If you’re ready to stop thinking about it, I’m just so curious, well, what are those thoughts that you’ve been thinking anyway? If you want to get away from those thoughts that you’ve been thinking about weight loss, I’m a little suspicious that maybe those thoughts aren’t actually super helpful.

If you don’t want to keep thinking them, then they’re probably not going to be great ones to be thinking as you move into maintenance. And what we’re interested in is losing weight and keeping it off, so we want to be maintaining.

So, really, ultimately, what the last five pounds comes down to for me, and why I believe they tend to be the hardest for what I’ve seen over the last six years, is that what you have to finally do is you have to really stop emotionally eating and process your emotions instead. And that’s the part that’s hard.

Because I’ve seen this time and time again, where people can get awfully close to their goal weight, still doing some emotional eating, still doing some overeating. And what’s really being asked of them with the last five pounds is to stop doing that. And that’s why as long as it’s a healthy weight for you – of course, not that you would become underweight; but that’s why I recommend losing those last five pounds.

Even if you decide later you want to gain them back again, the point of doing it is not so that your body’s a certain size or a certain number on the scale – the point in doing it is so that you really learn how to stop emotionally eating and you really learn what to do with your emotions instead.

Because it’s like, oh, I don’t emotionally eat anymore, but now, I overwork. Now, I drink too much alcohol. Now, I spend too much money. You can also just skip ahead and swap it for something else and we don’t want to do that either.

So, we have to really dig into that part that a lot of people like to try to avoid, but then it becomes evident to them eventually “I think that’s the part I have to do.” I’m only chuckling because I think that’s, at least to a certain extent everybody’s experienced, where they’re just like they have to come to some acceptance of the fact that like this is the only way this is ever going to happen. I have to, I just have to do this work.

So, that’s why the last five pounds can be really so challenging. So, when I say, oh, you have to stop emotionally eating, what that means is you no longer eat for emotional reasons. So, that means that you eat when you’re feeling physical hunger, you stop when your body is satisfied (not when it’s full, but when it’s satisfied), and you have occasional extra eating for pleasure, but occasional.

So, it doesn’t mean you don’t get any pleasure out of food. The food you eat tastes good to you, but you eat as much as your body needs. And then on occasion, you have some other treats if you decide you want to, whatever a treat looks like for you. But you don’t overeat it and you make sure you’re getting all the pleasure out of that thing.

I always think of it as like ringing out a washcloth. You’re just like, if I’m going to eat this, I’m going to enjoy absolute heck out of this thing. I’m not going to be eating it in a negative emotional state, I’m not going to be stuffing it down, wolfing it down, gobbling it down really, really fast. Like I’m going to really enjoy the taste of all this stuff, and I’m going to stop when I’ve had enough. And that’s it.

So, you’re not eating mindlessly, you’re not eating when you’re in a fog, you’re not asking food to make you feel better. You’re not using food as a reward or as a treat. You are never eating (unless you’re physically hungry) if you’re in a negative emotional state. And instead, what you do in that negative emotional state, is you process your feelings.

And that’s another episode. In fact, in the Weight Loss for Doctors Only Program, we have a whole module that really discusses processing emotions, how to do it, lots of different ways. I think of it as just having a whole toolkit. You’re not going to necessarily do every single thing every single day, but it’s good to know what you have available to you so that you can choose the thing that seems like it’ll be the best thing for you, so you can move through that.

And when you practice this enough times, which is what you end up doing as you’re trying to lose those last five pounds, is you start to really become skilled at it, and you break down that the neural connection that you have that suggests that you eat when you’re experiencing an emotion and instead, creates a new neural pathway that suggests that you consider one of the emotional processing tools as a way to deal with your emotions so that food truly becomes separated from that.

You see why this is so important, right? So, you’re not using food to feel better, you’re not emotionally eating.

Then you decide what you want to weigh. And if you want to gain some weight back, do it, awesome. Do it on purpose. Like decide how you’re going to do that and how you’re going to keep yourself in check, and then go ahead and do that.

So, when we always talking like, “Do I have to really process my emotions?” I mean, in my opinion, if you want to have peace of freedom around food, if you want to lose weight and get to that goal and then maintain it, yeah, you really do.

But the good news is, I know how to help you to do that. So, you are in the right place. And we’ll talk more about that on the Missing Piece to Permanent Weight Loss free training that I’m offering next Thursday, June 23rd.

So, to make sure you don’t miss out on that, go ahead and register for that at katrinaubellmd.com/loseweight. And then also, just knowing that you’re going to want this in the future, go ahead and pre-order How to Lose Weight for the Last Time, my new book that’s coming out. And you can go to katrinaubellmd.com/lasttime to get that.

And also, I just want to just mention this for anybody who is a healthcare professional, or if you give medical advice or health advice to people, if you stand behind the message of the book and everything that I’ve been talking about for 283 episodes, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this book. I think it’s a really great representation of that.

Go ahead and let people know that the book is coming out, start spreading the word and they can either pre-order it or they can wait until it comes out and have a look at it then. But it’s going to be something that I know so many healthcare professionals are going to be so excited to have as a resource. Because I hear time and time again, how doctors and other professionals really want to be able to give people some advice and some guidance for some real help on what’s really going to make a difference, and there just isn’t much to offer. And this could be a great solution for you. And also, just an easy thing to refer people to. So, excited for you to share that as well.

Well, thank you so much for being here today and hope you enjoyed the episode. Feel free to share it with anybody who you know is struggling with those last five pounds. I know it’ll make a big difference for them.

Have a wonderful rest of your week and I’ll talk to you next time. Take care, bye-bye.

Ready to start making progress on your weight loss goals? For lots of free help, go to katrinaubellmd.com and click on free resources.